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 November 5, 2002, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.



I. Greetings, Introductions and Review of the Agenda.

            The November 5, 2002 Regional Technical Forum meeting, held at the Northwest Power Planning Council's offices in Portland, Oregon, was chaired by Tom Eckman of the Council staff.

            The following is a distillation (not a verbatim transcript) of items discussed during the call, together with actions taken on those items.  Please note that some enclosures referenced in the body of the text may be too lengthy to attach; all enclosures referenced are available upon request from Eckman at 503/222-5161.

            Eckman led a round of introductions and a review of the agenda. The minutes from the September 17 RTF meeting were approved as written.

2. Presentation, Discussion and Decision on Request to Eliminate 10-Year Warranty Period As a Deemed Savings Eligibility Requirement for Residential Electric Resistance Water Heaters.

            There has been quite a bit of discussion of this issue within the region, said Eckman; today's presentation will reveal what I have discovered during my past two weeks of research on this topic. He went through a PowerPoint presentation on this subject, the full text of which is available via the RTF website. Among the highlights:

?         Background: original ?deemed? savings eligibility requirements did not specify warranty; standard electric resistance water heater assumed measure life = 10 years; measure life based on U.S. DOE Technical Support Document for Water Heater Standards; 10-year warranty requirement added to eligibility requirement as of October 1, 2002. Utilities have raised several concerns.

?          Measure life assumptions for electric water heaters generally exceed 10 years; ave. life is 14-15 years

?          Measure life vs. warranty life: GAMA directory lists longer warranty periods for tank models with two anode rods; not all tanks with qualifying EFs have two anode rods

?          ?Assumed? measure lives exceed the 10-year warranty period.

            The group offered a variety of clarifying questions and comments. Much of this discussion centered on how much incremental cost consumers would be willing to pay for a longer-lived, more-efficient water heater; one participant noted that if that incremental cost was $100 or more, consumer demand for them will be low. One way to avoid making those tanks expensive is to take one anode out, said Eckman, but that reduces the average measure life for those units. Another participant noted that, particularly in rural areas, consumer choices are often limited to stores like Sears and True Value, which offer a limited number of available models. In those cases, he said, trying to impose more efficient, higher-cost models could cause many vendors to simply drop out of this program.

            One suggestion is that we could bifurcate along the lines of what the distribution looks like, a nine-year deemed life in one case and another option with a 20-year life, Eckman said. We could also add a third category, say, a 15-year measure life, as well as a 25-year measure life, Eckman suggested.

            Do I have a motion to bifurcate the number into a nine-year, non-warranty tank, assuming a 17-year measure life, and a 25-year warranty tank? Eckman asked. Are you proposing a change in the dollar amount of the credit? another participant asked. The change from a 10-year to a nine-year warranty amounts to three or four dollars, Eckman replied; however, we could not implement that change for another nine months, until the one-year anniversary of this program.

            Mark Johnson suggested that the group deem one set of measures for a 10-year non-warranty tank, deem another set for a 10-year warranty tank with a measure life of 17 or 18 years and deem another set for ?marathon? tanks. And the credit will change? Eugene Rosolie asked. Not until fiscal 2004, Eckman replied. After a few minutes of additional discussion, the RTF approved the following motion, on the basis that it would offer more continuity and less confusion to the marketplace: Use a 14-year measure life for tanks required to have a 10-year warranty, delete the current 10-year warranty requirement for the existing efficient water heater measure, but continue to use a 10-year measure life for this tank and change the measure life for lifetime warranty tanks from 20 years to 25 years.

3. Presentation, Discussion and Decision on Request to Establish Deemed Savings for Programmable Thermostats.

            There is a lot of promise to this technology, according to some, when used properly, said Eckman; Energy Star estimates that labeled programmable thermostats, when used properly, can save consumers 20%-30% on their heating and cooling bills.

            However, according to the Wisconsin Energy Center, the reality is different, said Eckman; he quoted Monica Nevuis of the WEC, who said, ?Before we did this study, I was sold on programmable thermostats. It was a shock to me when we discovered that they have virtually no effect on energy savings.? Another study, presented at the 1997 International Energy Program Evaluation Conference in Chicago, found ?... no statistically significant difference between the average setback values for those who set back manually versus those who used the automatic feature.? Another, study, from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, concurred with this finding. Another study in Florida found a number of homes with programmable thermostats, which showed evidence of increased consumption and peak demand. Finally, a recent study prepared for Eugene Water and Electric Board found that, ?In general, savings are small and not statistically significant.?

             Is the problem that the technology doesn't work, or that people don't know how to use it? one participant asked. The problem appears to be two-fold, Eckman replied ? first, that people don't understand how to program this technology properly, and second, that people were already setting back their thermostats manually, and this technology was simply automating that process ? in other words, it was simply a convenience, not an energy savings.

            A few minutes of discussion ensued; the group discussed their personal experiences with programmable thermostats. Eckman said that, in his view, all of the evidence to date points to the fact that programmable thermostats do not provide statistically significant energy savings. Again, he said, the basic problem is that these thermostats, in general, simply automate the same temperature regimes that the consumer used before. Any strong feeling, one-way or the other, as to what we should do with programmable thermostats? he asked. They're on the list, currently; perhaps we should keep them on the list but say there are no deemed savings associated with this measure.

            After a brief discussion, Johnson suggested that programmable thermostats be dropped from the list; that would eliminate the possibility that utilities to establish their own savings estimate for this measures without RTF review. One participant noted that the RTF's intention is not to say programmable thermostats are a bad idea ? they simply don't save a statistically significant amount of energy in comparison to an aware customer. it's a lifestyle enabler, rather than a technology that increases energy savings, he said. If there are manufacturers who think they can demonstrate significant savings through the use of this technology, Eckman added, we would like to look at that data.

The RTF approved the following motion: Programmable thermostats should be removed from the list of measures eligible for credit under the C&R Discount program since the available evidence does not demonstrate that they save a statistically significant amount of energy.

Johnson said that the earliest programmable thermostats can be removed from the list is October 1, 2003.

            Eckman then moved on to a presentation on electronic line voltage thermostats, which are more sensitive and therefore cycle more frequently than standard bi-metal, electromechanical line voltage thermostats, providing greater comfort control and (sometimes), energy savings. This presentation (also available from the RTF website), touched on the following main topic areas:

?            A summary of measured field savings (mostly from Hydro Quebec) from thermostat replacements (these ranged from 12% to 0%, with an average of 7.1%)

?            But, of 56 sites, 23 had statistically lower energy use, 10 had statistically higher energy use, and the remaining 23 sites? energy use could not be correlated to thermostat replacement due to occupant behavior.

?            Thermostat issues: Do ?savings? resulting from reduced temperature settings based on occupant interaction (whether automatic or manual) persist? Do savings from ?behavioral? changes (i.e., thermostat setpoints) qualify as conservation under the Act? Is there sufficient evidence to establish deemed savings values for programmable thermostats? Electronic thermostats?

            Eckman said that, in general, there appears to be some statistically significant energy savings through this technology for single-family homes (about 8.5%), but not for multi-family homes. After a few minutes of discussion, Eckman suggested that he take advice as to whether to deem somewhere in the 5%-8% neighborhood for single-family homes, as long as all of the thermostats are retrofitted with electronic line voltage technology, but said that, at this point, he does not see evidence to support deeming savings for multi-family homes.

            Stephens said that, in his view, there simply isn't enough data, at this point, to justify deeming this technology for the Northwest region. Other participants took issue with this statement, saying that, in their view, there may be enough evidence to support deeming this technology for single-family homes.  Eckman observed that the group could decide to leave this technology on the list, but not deem it at this point. Eckman added that he could assume that this is the last measure in a fully weatherized home, and then assume a fairly conservative energy use for Zone 1 homes and a conservative savings of perhaps 5%. Stephens further suggested that any utilities that want to use this measure be required to collect data on actual energy savings achieved.

            Eckman ran the numbers through his spreadsheet, noting that the credit works out to $20 per thermostat for electronic line voltage thermostat retrofits. In response to a question, Eckman said it would be possible to insert a sunset clause in this measure, pending the receipt of additional data from regional utilities.

The RTF approved the following motion (with two dissenting votes): Electronic line voltage thermostats are deemed to produce a 5% reduction in the space heating use of a fully-weatherized single family home when all existing thermostats are replaced. This measure should be assumed to have 15-year measure life. No deemed savings should be claimed for multifamily dwellings.

4. Presentation, Discussion and Decision on Request to Establish Deemed Savings For Low Flow Showerheads, Faucet Aerators, Pipe Wrap and Outlet Gaskets.

            Eckman led this presentation; again, the full text is available via the RTF website. He touched on the following major topic areas:

?           Historical savings assumptions

?           Current low-flow showerhead issues

?            Low-flow showerhead options ? Option 1: establish ?deemed savings? values; require pre-installation flow-rate test, use truncated measure life (3-5 years) to reflect the existing federal standard; require the use of 1.5 gpm or less showerheads; do not permit the ?consumer-installed? option. Option 2: drop showerheads from measure eligibility list unless flow rate is less than 1.5 gpm. Option 3:

            Jay Himlie noted that his utility has already received many complaints from customers on well-water systems because of low flow at the current 3 gpm standard; it is extremely doubtful that they will be willing to accept an even lower standard of 1.5 gpm. There are also control issues at lower flows, where the water is either too cold or too hot, Stephens observed. As I see it, our job here isn't to enforce the standard at Fred Meyer, said Eugene Rosolie -- I don't see why we should take resources from other measures to subsidize people who want to install something other than code. To me, the issue is, if you encounter a showerhead that discharges more than 3 gpm in the field, we should be able to offer to change that showerhead out at no cost, said Stephens. The question is, what should the measure life be? another participant observed. Another issue is, would it make sense for a utility to send someone out just to verify the savings from this measure, or would they only verify it if they were already in the house? A lengthy debate on the merits of this measure ensued.

The RTF approved the following motion (with three dissenting votes):  Energy efficient showerheads installed in existing homes are deemed to produce an annual savings of 158 kWh for a period of three years when the existing showerhead has a tested flow rate equal to or greater than 3 gpm and the replacement showerhead has a tested flow rate of not greater than 2.5 gpm.

            Next, the RTF took up faucet aerator issues. These included the following:

?           EPAC 1992 set maximum faucet aerator flow rate at 2.75 gpm. Therefore, if a consumer replaces their faucet, it must use 2.75 gpm or less. This means the expected measure life of incremental savings is shorter.

?           Median expected life of faucet aerators is 7-12 years. This means that at least 50% of the showerheads already use 2.75 gpm or less.

?           AWWA Research Foundation (1999) showed end-use metering of almost 1,200 homes indicated average faucet flow rate of 1.35 gpm.

            Eckman then went through some historical savings assumptions for kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators, as well as a summary of field research for these types of faucet aerators (please refer to the full text of Eckman's presentation for details). He then moved on to the following deemed savings options for kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators:

?           Option 1: do not accept any deemed savings from aerators unless they are documented using RTF savings estimation protocols

?           Option 2: Drop aerators from the list of eligible measures

?           Option 3: Establish deemed savings value for aerators for multifamily

?           Option 4: Other ideas suggested by the RTF

            The RTF approved the following motion: Kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators have not been demonstrated to reduce hot water energy consumption and therefore should be removed from the list of measures eligible for C&R Discount Program credit.

Johnson said that the earliest programmable thermostats can be removed from the list is October 1, 2003.

            The discussion then moved on to hot water heater pipe wrap. Eckman went through the historical savings assumptions for this measure, then enumerated the following options for hot water heater pipe wrap:

?           Option 1: Add deemed savings value for pipe wrap; base savings on BPA laboratory measurements, adjust delta-T to field data on ambient temperatures of tanks and tank water temperatures.

?           Option 2: Maintain eligibility, but do not establish deemed savings.

?           Option 3:

            The RTF approved the following motion: Insulating domestic hot water heater cold and hot water pipes with nominal R4 foam insulation for a length of at least 15 feet from the water heater is deemed to produce annual savings of 60 kWh. Insulating domestic hot water heater cold and hot water pipes with nominal R4 foam insulation for a length of at least 3 feet from the water heater is deemed to produce annual savings of 20 kWh. This measure is deemed to have a 15-year lifetime.

            Eckman then moved on to deemed savings measures for air sealing measures. He began with the current status of credits for air sealing:

?           Historically, there have been no ?prescriptive? based savings eligible for C&R discount credits

?           Weatherization measures, such as wall insulation, which are known to reduce infiltration, receive no credit for savings associated with reduced air leakage.

?            Outlet gaskets and door and window weatherstripping are frequently recommended/installed as ?low-cost? air sealing measures.

            Eckman touched on some of the reasons why estimating energy savings for prescriptive measures appears problematic (see full text of this presentation).

The RTF approved the following motion:  There is not a technical basis for establishing deemed savings for potential reductions in infiltration/exfiltration from the installation of gaskets on electrical outlets and switch plates. Savings from these and all other measures used to reduce air leakage must be verified through performance testing.

5. Presentation, Discussion and Decision on Request to Add the Energy Trust of Oregon as an Eligible Organization to Receive Unlimited Contributions.

            It was agreed to discuss this agenda item at a future meeting of the RTF.

6. Discussion of Need for Criteria for ?Green Tags.?

             Ken Corum led this presentation. The issue here is, should the RTF establish technical criteria for green tags, and, if so, what should they be? Corum said. Roby Roberts said ?green tags? are essentially the environmental attributes of an increment of renewable generation; they are basically tradeable renewable energy credits, and are being actively traded, mainly in Europe. An experimental green tag commodity-trading floor is under development in Chicago, Roberts added. The issues associated with this item were identified as follows:

?                     Utilities may claim C&R discount program credits for the purchase of ?green tags.?

?                     Currently, only BPA and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation are listed as ?approved? vendors.

?                     Other vendors sell ?green tags.?

?                     Not all ?green tags? are the same.


            Rosolie said that, in his view, it is appropriate for the RTF to set a standard for green tags, which would allow any vendor who wishes to sell green tags to do so, as long as those standards are met. Eugene is proposing that we open up the C&RD process to other vendors, Roberts said; one way to do that is to ask the RTF to establish green tag standards.

            The group devoted a few minutes of further discussion to the nuances of what a green tag is and how it is traded as a commodity. Essentially, a green tag is the non-power attributes of clean, renewable energy resources -- largely the displacement of atmospheric emissions that would otherwise have been produced if combustion turbines, rather than, say, wind generators, had produced the same energy, said Angus Duncan. In addition, he said, some traders commit to re-investing net revenues in the development of additional renewable energy resources. Mark Johnson clarified that Bonneville and Angus Duncan have made that re-investment commitment; if we want a level playing field, he said, we should require that all green tag vendors make the same commitment.

            What exactly is the RTF being asked to make a call on here? one participant asked. One thing the RTF needs to decide is whether green tags are appropriate for C&RD, Rosolie replied; in my view, they are. The RTF needs to make such a recommendation to BPA, he said; the next issue is, under what criteria can a given vendor's green tags qualify for C&RD? Having BPA establish criteria that may exclude some vendors probably isn't something that should be done without the RTF's input, he said.

            Johnson observed that many of the issues that have been discussed today are considered policy issues by Bonneville, and have already been decided in the rate case. While Bonneville would welcome any input the RTF sees fit to provide, said Johnson, essentially, this is likely to boil down to whether or not this is a rate case issue, rather than a technical issue. Still, we see this as no different than conservation issues where the RTF is allowed to weigh in on at least the technical aspects, said Rosolie.

            The original question was whether this was something the RTF should take up, and make recommendations as to standards, said Corum. Correct ? I would move that, at its next meeting, the RTF review a set of standards that would qualify green tags for the C&RD discount, said Rosolie. Himlie seconded this motion. Corum suggested that, instead, the RTF do some homework and come to its next meeting prepared for a more-informed discussion of the green tag issue.

            Stephens observed that, in his view, what he has heard so far today is not a technical issue; Rosolie disagreed, noting that the standards that qualify green tags for C&RD credits is a technical issue, in his view. The RTF discussed whether this is truly a technical issue, or a political one. Various RTF participants expressed the view that they are not qualified to resolve this extremely complex issue, which obviously has both technical and policy aspects.

            Would it be possible for BPA to provide some additional guidance to the RTF's discussion of this issue, based on what has already been decided? Stephens asked. It would, Johnson replied, but I'm not sure who would provide that briefing. Johnson said he needs to go back to Bonneville to try to obtain greater clarity about whether this is a technical issue, or a policy issue beyond the purview of the RTF.

            Himlie said he would amend the motion currently before the group to say the group should look into technical criteria for what qualifies as a green tag eligible for C&RD credit, pending resolution of that issue. Then, if BPA comes back and says this is a policy issue, not a technical issue, and the RTF's input is not needed, we will simply table the issue. I'm more than willing to take that issue to others at Bonneville, said Johnson. After a brief additional discussion, the motion carried, but with less than a 60% majority; for that reason, the motion will not be implemented. Johnson said, however, that he will pursue an answer to this question within Bonneville, and will report back to the RTF at the group's next meeting.

7. Discussion of Alternative Approaches to ?Deemed Calculation? of Residential Weatherization Savings.

            Eckman explained that the deemed savings currently available for weatherization are for a fixed set of measures, with a fixed set of increments. It is tedious for the utilities to keep track of this, and doesn't produce very useful information for us, Eckman said. For that reason, we have produced a new deemed calculator that allows more sophisticated incremental calculations. That was fairly transparent, he said, but the next step got a bit more complex.

            Eckman demonstrated the revised deemed calculator using the overhead projector; he said this works fine as long as the behavior of the occupant is consistent through the entire spectrum of UA options out there. Unfortunately, research shows that this is not the case. The question is what, if anything, we should do about adding flexibility to the existing deemed calculator for residential weatherization, Eckman said. Any suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated, he said.

            It was agreed that the RTF would ponder this issue, and take it up at a later date.

8. Discussion and Decision on Request to Approve Alternative Method for Verifying Heat Pump Refrigerant Charge During Heating Season.

            Eckman said this agenda item boils down to whether or not there is an acceptable alternative to subcool/superheat when ambient temperatures are below 55 degrees F. Eckman went through the background for this question, then moved on to ?What we know:?

 ?           Manufacturers do describe alternative methods for testing a heat pump refrigerant charge in the heating mode: measure total airflow and temperature split, calculate heat output and compare it to published performance data; remove and ?weigh in? refrigerant.

            Eckman noted, however, that according to Howard Leonard of Total Tech HVACR Training, during the heating season, the only way to ensure that a heat pump has the correct refrigerant charge is to weigh it in. Attempting to charge or adjust a charge by any other method is futile. Eckman laid out the following preliminary recommendation:

?           Permit use of ?weigh-in? method only.

            Various participants noted that even the weigh-in method is generally inaccurate.

The RTF unanimously approved the following motion: Verification of proper refrigerant charge in heat pumps (and central air conditioners) should only be permitted when the equipment is operating in the cooling mode.

Lavelle Perin, Executive Director of Climate Crafters said she would write a notice laying out the outcome of this agenda item for the utilities.

9. Next RTF Meeting Date.

            The next meeting of the Regional Technical Forum was set for January, exact meeting date t.b.a . Meeting summary prepared by Jeff Kuechle, NWPPC contractor.